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Thread: Installing new Tsuka.

  1. #1

    Question Installing new Tsuka.

    I will receiving a new tsuka next week and I was wondering If any one out there knows the proper methods .I was told by Paul Chen [ Cheness] that I should drill new holes in the tang , I assume also the handle. What is the best way to go about it? , Do's & Don'ts.
    Thanks Jim

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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Anestasi View Post
    I will receiving a new tsuka next week and I was wondering If any one out there knows the proper methods .I was told by Paul Chen [ Cheness] that I should drill new holes in the tang , I assume also the handle. What is the best way to go about it? , Do's & Don'ts.
    Thanks Jim
    I'm confused too, Jim.. if you had a new tsuka made, why wouldn't they drill the holes themselves? I'm assuming the tsuka was made for your blade's nakago, correct? If not, it's pretty much useless (a "don't" in itself).
    Certified nerd; if you need an Excel sheet or an AutoCAD drawing done, just drop me a PM!

  3. #3
    I would suggest that you tell us what kind of katana you have, whether you already have the holes in the nakago (should be 2 of them on a Cheness), and whether this new tsuka has any holes at all. Why would you even need a new tsuka anyway?

    I can already see tons of problems if there are no holes on the tsuka. How are you going to fit it in there and make sure you know exactly where the holes on the nakago are? Would there be any big problems with taking a power drill or drill press and drilling a hole through the tsuka, perfectly straight through the nakago hole, and out the other side?

    Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen... if your old tsuka broke apart and this is a replacement .......then you should look into returning said katana and getting a replacement of the entire sword, or a refund.

  4. #4

    Question Intsalling New Tsuka

    Hi Timo,
    The katana is a Yamakami. I ordered a new Tsuka from P.C. at Cheness. And yes the tsuka is for that katana. I dont know if tsuka has been drilled or not,I hope it has been. As Paul told me I should drill new holes in the nakago?, so I'm a little confused about that.
    I assume that it is a one size fits all.
    Thanks for your quick response .
    Jim

  5. #5
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    You *do* know that there is no "one-size-fits-all" in tsuka, right? That kind of tsuka is actually "one-size-that-fits-none".

    Even production-swords are made at least partially by hand, causing slight variations. Unless Cheness actually uses a template for their nakago (including sori, distal taper, change of kasane, width of shinogi-ji etc.) and impose that to each and every blade after it's finished then it won't be a prefect, or good, or even a decent fit. And I haven't even mentioned the complexity of making a well-fitting, well-shaped tsuka-core..

    If I were you I'd just ask for a refund.

    If you choose, however, to try to fit this new tsuka on, I suggest do it like this: See if there are any holes in the tsuka. If it does, gently push the nakago into the tsuka. It should go most of the way without force. When it stops, lightly tap the kashira (maybe with a rubber mallet) so it goes deeper, and indeed all the way in. The holes should line up. If they don't you'll have to drill either the nakago (would make more sense) or the tsuka (and end up with four mekugi-ana, which would look silly).
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    That just sounds like a big mess waiting to happen. This whole one size fits all it a litte troubling because the right way to do it would be to carve the new handle to fit. The hole usually is the last thing drilled after everything is wrapped and fit and then fit the mekugi. When you get your handle call Paul and have him explain it to you again. The thing that sucks about this situation is that there is just so much room for error here that if you do something wrong, you will have to spend more money just to fix it.

  7. #7

    Question Tsuka replacement

    Hello Kmark,
    If the Tsuka is pre- drilled that would better. And yes the nakago has two holes. The tsuka cracked in two places at the top of the handle at the "same"groves also the bottom seam is unglued.
    Paul Chen is sending me a new one at no charge.
    I been cutting bamboo & tatame omote every week for 7 months and on its third inspection it had cracked.
    I have a long running post on the beginners forum Cutting Bamboo with the Cheness Yamakami, Take a look.
    Regards Jim.

  8. #8

    Question Tsuka Replacement

    Hi Tom,
    I am aware of the problems that could happen, that is why I'm asking questions. When the new tsuka comes in I will inspect it and see if it will be difficult or not. I'm hoping that the tsuka has been drilled and that is the key I believe.
    I will let every one know how it goes.
    Thank for your thoughts,
    Jim

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    stock tsuka

    If its a stock yamakami tsuka it would have been pre drilled already
    surely ?

    if you do have to drill it yourself be very careful of mekugi ana placement - two holes less than a half inch apart will weaken the nakago in that area - in fact I am hoping that you wont to drill anything as P Y Chen is a sensible guy whose other replacement tsuka come pre drilled as to avoid the obvious issues multiple holes
    could cause .

    good luck Jim - your long running SGC cutting thread was a joy to read and seemed to be around forever


    Mick
    " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



    Ephesians 6:11

  10. #10
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    Hi Jim,

    It makes more sense for you to be prepared to have to drill fresh holes in your blade's nakago than expect everything to fit without adjustments. One common problem with having pre-fabricated and drilled replacement tsuka supplied is the potential for miss-alignment of mekugi ana. Drilling new holes in nakago isn't too difficult.

    This type of repair wasn't totally unheard of in cases of damaged wartime pieces (WWII gunto) repaired in the field, so I'd try not to worry too much.

    In cases like this, the likelihood of both sets of ana being an ideal fit tends to be minimal unless extremely tight tolerances are observed during blade and tsuka manufacture. Cheness supply replacement tsuka (It seems) fairly frequently, so there should be a fair chance of finding a good match.

    -----

    One method for checking and modifying the fit between nakago and pre-fabbed tsuka is to;

    Coat nakago in candle soot. Insert into tsuka and remove to check. You should hopefully find soot has been stripped from nakago due to friction fit.

    If not and in a worst case scenario;

    Thoroughly wax nakago. Car wax works well.

    Inject wood glue (PVA) into the very end of the tsuka, insert nakago into tsuka and allow to cure for at least 8hrs. Clean up surplus glue by mopping off with a sponge dampened in clean water.

    The PVA won't adhere to the wax, but will flow around the nakago (Filling voids or cracks inside the tsuka) and helps create a good fit. This method facilitates a tighter fit and maintenance strip-downs whilst reducing undue movement between parts, but the nakago must be thoroughly waxed beforehand.

    Remove wax on completion of fitting.

    Shims (Made from oiled high grit wet & dry paper and placed between fuchi and seppa) can help tighten the fit between mating surfaces. The ideal fix is to size and fit thicker or thinner seppa.

    NB. The above is only a fix and can never replace the use of custom made and fitted tsuka.
    Last edited by Sean Stonebridge; 08-10-2007 at 01:22 AM.
    Careful thought, consideration & communication is well worth the effort and end result.

  11. #11

    Unhappy Installing new Tsuka.

    Well Guys,
    My worst nightmare arrived,just about every thing you guys said came true.
    First of all when I opened the box I noticed it was not drilled for the mekugis .Then it looked like it was slimmer,it is.The opening for the nakago was smaller,The length was correct,also the fuchi was sloppy, the"same" panels were not as pronounced as the old one and The edges had been sanded down.The ito was slightly darker shade of brown,& tight.
    So I tried to slide it onto the nakago it went in about half way,real tight.I thought about opening the sleeve up some. I have some needle files that would work,then the work began after many hours of filing I'm about 1"1/4 away from finishing. I'm not sure if I should continue or not as it is still very tight so I might try again tomorrow and see if I can get a little looser.
    My concern is it is so tight that If I force it well it might crack.
    I sent Paul a message on sunday night. It is now monday night and he has not replied as of yet.

    Thanks for your help mates.

    Jim

  12. #12
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    There goes the theory of Cheness using templates..

    Remember that if you needle-file the inside of the tsuka it's not "friction-fit" or actually not fit at all, and is mostly held in place by the mekugi. Be sure to check them often if you use this sword, and also keep checking the tsuka for cracks.

    Me, I wouldn't have bothered with the tsuka, just sent it back after it was apparent that it was not made for your sword and requested a refund.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Anestasi View Post
    Well Guys,
    My worst nightmare arrived,just about every thing you guys said came true.
    First of all when I opened the box I noticed it was not drilled for the mekugis .Then it looked like it was slimmer,it is.The opening for the nakago was smaller,The length was correct,also the fuchi was sloppy, the"same" panels were not as pronounced as the old one and The edges had been sanded down.The ito was slightly darker shade of brown,& tight.
    So I tried to slide it onto the nakago it went in about half way,real tight.I thought about opening the sleeve up some. I have some needle files that would work,then the work began after many hours of filing I'm about 1"1/4 away from finishing. I'm not sure if I should continue or not as it is still very tight so I might try again tomorrow and see if I can get a little looser.
    My concern is it is so tight that If I force it well it might crack.
    I sent Paul a message on sunday night. It is now monday night and he has not replied as of yet.

    Thanks for your help mates.

    Jim
    From my experience the best way instead of a needle file is to get some sticky sand paper and stick it to the nakago, then slide it in and out until you can fit it on the nakago. As for drilling the holes I can understand why Cheness did not do it and the best thing for you to do is take the smallest drill bit you have and drill a hole, but of course you have to make the precise measurment where the nakago-ana is and then mark that on the tsuka. It can be done but it will take a little work is all, once you drill the "pilot" hole and you know your location then you can make te holes for the size of the meguki.



    And I agree with Timo, some sort of refund should be issued, this is so typical of a cheness product.
    Last edited by David Buck; 08-14-2007 at 07:12 AM.

  14. #14

    Installing new Tsuka;

    Well I just received a message from Paul Chen. He asked me to go ahead and force it on, if it breaks he will send me an replacement.
    He also he said that he is going to personally check this new batch of tsuka's and try to find out if it was just an oddball or if the whole batch is bad.
    I'm on my way to get some bits for the job at hand.
    I did take some precise measurements for the ana ,position.
    Stay tuned.
    Jim

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    Thumbs down The age of the artisan and sword crafts is alive and well

    I just received a message from Paul Chen. He asked me to go ahead and force it on,

    If it goes the way of the pear a refund will be issued yes ? thats comforting .

    In light of a recent near fatal accident does anyone else find this whole disposable tsuka thing very disturbing ? I do .

    I would rather have a good product and never have to speak to the CEO of a company about a piece of junk - no matter how nice they are

    One guy started a thread by stating - " I got my first cracked
    cheness tsuka today " like it was normal ???? jesus H christ - is
    this where we are at now ? No wonder the custon guys give production swords a wide berth and a hard time , I mean its a joke isnt it ?


    I apologise sincerely to all of our cheness owners on SFI - I am one myself and I love my 9260 shura blade - but this tsuka farce
    is rapidly over shadowing the good will P Y Chen built up with his
    excellent customer service - Please Paul , get it together man .


    Jim - I am sorry to rant in your thread mate - i followed your SGC cuttung thread from start to finish and for putting a new sword through its paces - well I enjoyed every update you put on there - I am sad that the tsuka never held up as for a long time it looked like it would . sorry man.

    Mick
    " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



    Ephesians 6:11

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    Thumbs down The age of the artisan and sword crafts is alive and well

    excellent advice Sean -

    but your right , these are only workarounds and no substitute for custom fitted parts .

    - once you have a remounted blade that uses a custom carved and fitted core - made to measure for the
    nakago and fittings your using, its a world of difference and in my opinion the confidence such a mount gives you carries over into your kata and cutting excercises .

    but custom tsuka are not cheap and then your looking at the point of production swords being obsolete as you end up paying a lot more for the mount than the sword cost -

    whats a guy/gal to do ?

    Mick
    Last edited by michael wilson; 08-17-2007 at 02:53 AM.
    " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



    Ephesians 6:11

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    Thumbs down

    I share your frustration Mick, and your worry over the safety even more so. The problem isn't limited only to Cheness, either. The way my "Masahiro Bamboo" tsuka looked turned inside-out confirmed that not only are many Chinese (Longquan-based?) companies sharing the one-size-fits-all tsuka. This is purely speculation, but I'm starting to believe that some company makes the tsuka, adds the fittings and same-panels, and does the tsukamaki *BEFORE* the tsuka are sent to the company that makes the blades. Would make sense, actually. I hope and I pray that I'm wrong..

    Now, for people on SFI this isn't as big a problem, since people here pretty much know to watch out if you use one of these swords. But what about average Joe buying one on eBay (or where ever), thinks it's The Sh*t and proceeds to chop down trees with it.. How many accidents does it take to get a sword ban going outside UK also?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    I share your frustration Mick, and your worry over the safety even more so. The problem isn't limited only to Cheness, either. The way my "Masahiro Bamboo" tsuka looked turned inside-out confirmed that not only are many Chinese (Longquan-based?) companies sharing the one-size-fits-all tsuka. This is purely speculation, but I'm starting to believe that some company makes the tsuka, adds the fittings and same-panels, and does the tsukamaki *BEFORE* the tsuka are sent to the company that makes the blades. Would make sense, actually. I hope and I pray I'm wrong.

    Now, for people on SFI this isn't as big a problem, since people here pretty much know to watch out if you use one of these swords. But what about average Joe buying one on eBay (or where ever), thinks it's The Sh*t and proceeds to chop down trees with it.. How many accidents does it take to get a sword ban going outside UK also?

    Regardless of where folk are or who's wares we're discussing, as long as potentially flawed pieces are made using inherently poor methods of manufacture we all share responsability to one another regarding safe sword use. Safety has to be our greatest priority and yet these articles are being passed off as being suited for practical use.

    (Isn't there a disclaimer somewhere that states such pieces aren't suitable for real time use or cutting?)

    Passing a fairly reasonable (But sharpened) blade that's fitted with a "Gummy Bear", "Mix and match", or "It looks like a real one, but it's sub par" handle and fittings as a sword doesn't make it in any way useable unless the sum of all parts match or exceed standards applied by past and present professional swordmakers.

    Pieces that don't make the grade basically amount to being no better than Sword Like Objects (SLO's) and wallhangers. Harsh words? Perhaps, but something needs to be said when budget and profits appear to take precedence over safety.

    Hence my earlier suggestion that nakago and tsuka need to be crafted using strict guidelines, patterns, templates and far higher standards of quality control BEFORE parts achieve full suitability for use on swords intended for practical use.

    Laws in this and doubtless other countries nominate shared responsability between manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and teachers if goods they provide or recommend are known to potentially fail in a dangerous manner during use, are miss sold or unable to serve stated / intended function. Everyone is liable when potential for injury and death can result from neglegence.

    By all means buy bare blades, kits, SLO's and wallhangers, but please try to avoid poorly made facsimiles if you ever want to use swords for cutting or potentially aggressive attempts at forms / waza.

    I'd hate to lose anyone.
    Careful thought, consideration & communication is well worth the effort and end result.

  19. #19
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    Great reply Sean

    a better thought out response than my rant mate

    I was incensed by the line from another thread " bought my first
    cracked cheness tsuka today "
    and by the advice Jim was given of "just force it on "

    someones going to have to bite the bullet and admit to themselves
    that you cannott manufacture a sword to be used for regular heavy cutting for around $200 by cutting corners of quality in such a fundamental area of function and safety as the tsuka .

    five into four just wont go !!

    Mick
    " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



    Ephesians 6:11

  20. #20

    Tsuka Installed;

    Hello Michael,
    I received another message from Paul Chen,He wants me not to attempt to cut with Yamakami Katana.
    He wants me take the tsuka off & on a few times to see if it aligns with nakago correctly,also he wants some pictures so he can see how it sits in the tsuka. As it stands now the nakago is at angle.
    He also said after he see the pictures he would send me another tsuka,He is going to check all of this last batch to see if there is any more that have this problem. It sounds to me that he is concerned about the problems as he should be.
    I did not have to drill the nakago,I took several measurements from the the original and the ana's were offset, since the tsuka was at an angle I had to make a slight adjustment to the alignment.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Jim

  21. #21
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    Thumbs down They come in batches??

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Anestasi View Post
    ..He is going to check all of this last batch to see if there is any more that have this problem. It sounds to me that he is concerned about the problems as he should be.
    I'm concerned that there is such a thing as "a batch of tsuka". Pretty much confirms what I posted earlier. That's horrible..
    Certified nerd; if you need an Excel sheet or an AutoCAD drawing done, just drop me a PM!

  22. #22

    Installing new Tsuka;

    Hi guys,
    Well here we go again another tsuka is on the way. Paul contacted me today as He sending me another tsuka to try at my request.
    He checked the pictures that we took and saw what I was talking about & showed concern,also he suggested that I might try a custom Tsuka if This one doesn't work out,however the price of a new tsuka would run about $200.00 to $300.00 depending who does it, the sword cost $300.00! so now were talking about $600.00 big ones.If I send the new tsuka to be fitted properly and use the same core & fittings It probably would be less expensive i think.
    Thanks for all your comments, I appreciate the input very much.I feel like I came to a sword fight without a handle.

    So long for now,
    Jim

  23. #23

    Unhappy Installing new Tsuka;

    Hello out there,
    I tried to fit 2 different tsuka's with no luck,so I'm going to make one with a little help from a G.S.,he has all the tools & knowledge on wood working.
    I have decided not to wrap it or put 'same'' panels on but will use the F.K.,the handle is from a new pick&mattocks and is hard wood.
    It will be fully inlet & epoxied and will be removable and drilled so I can use the mekugi's in the ana's.This wont be traditional but it will be safe.It will be about 11" long, most likely I will file some groves at an angle for a better griping surface.
    It is a sad day that this is what we have to do to get a safe Tsuka
    On a sword that is made for heavy cutting as advertised.Paul Chen from Cheness,Tried to help me but could not,he said that he will in the future the tsuka & nakago will be made correctly on the Yamakami Katana, He also said to get a custom one built.
    Thats it for now as my journey down this crooked road continues.

    Jim

  24. #24
    Hi Jim,

    I'm one of those who feel a bare wood handle can be safe

    At least for some occasional cutting along with some babying and alot of attention to nuances of sound and feel - you know that unexplained often ignored feeling that only reveals itself through hindsight- "I knew that was gonna happen"

    Regardless of the wood though, there is no way for it to be as safe or long lived as same_g and ito. (imho)

    There's plenty of comment and opinion on those 'round here.

    I am curious about the grooves you describe, grooves? can you give more detail? And what you will do to keep the epoxy from those when bedding
    maybe your gunsmith has a trick you can share?

    Thanks

  25. #25

    Cool Groves & Stuff;

    Hi Kevin T,
    Well this is what I want to do but perhaps I will use the "same" but we will see. The groves will be made with a needle file not real deep but they will be angled across the oval sides for a better grip.
    The ana's will have clay inserted in them ,the nakago will be covered Carnuba Wax as an release agent,I'm not sure what type of epoxy we will use as yet.
    As far as wrapping it I might try parachute cord or something else,We will take it one step at a time,I want to be sure it is safe & strong.
    Regards Jim

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